The Blumhouse of Horrors
Even though he may not be a name you immediately recognize, producer Jason Blum is well on his way to becoming one of the more prolific producers of modern genre fare and for very good reason – he knows what it takes to get under people’s skin and scare the crap out of them.
Over the last few years, Blum has produced under his Blumhouse shingle the entire Paranormal Activity series, Insidious, The FP, Lawless and Sinister as well as the upcoming genre projects The Lords of Salem, The Bay, Area 51 and potentially Insidious 2 once that project gets under way.
Not content with just scaring audiences in movie theaters, Blum recently embarked on an all-new haunted attraction in Downtown Los Angeles – the Blumhouse of Horrors – which takes victims through a haunted theater set in the 1930’s, bearing witness to a murder mystery and a love triangle gone horribly wrong.
After recently checking out Blumhouse of Horrors (definitely worth your time if you’re in the Los Angeles area!), Dread Central hopped on the phone with Blum to discuss his latest horror-infused endeavor as well as heard his thoughts on Blumhouse’s successes over the years. Blum also discussed the upcoming sequel Paranormal Activity 4, the recently released Sinister and what the status of Insidious 2 is.
Check out our exclusive interview with Blum below!
Dread Central: So what inspired you to get into the haunt business then?
Jason Blum: Well, we’ve shot almost all of our movies in the Los Angeles area and we use the same crews over and over again; a bunch of us had been talking about how much fun it would be to do a haunted house and once we found our location, that’s when things really got going for us.
I have always wanted to do a haunted house that told a real story and wasn’t just a bunch of jump scares either; I had done three years of theatre-producing in New York so I would say that Blumhouse of Horrors has more of a theatrical aspect to it than say, a movie does. I found some inspiration in the Sleep No More show in New York and once we saw just how cool the building was, we used that to inspire our twisted little story.
Dread Central: Did you have actual story writers for Blumhouse of Horrors then or did you write the story?
Jason Blum: Blumhouse of Horrors has been an entirely collaborative experience for me- we have about 100 people invested in this so this is a labor of love for a lot of people. I had some input into the story, definitely, but I was one of many voices; Tom and Jenn Spence (production designers) were definitely two of the major driving forces behind this whole project and the story.
Dread Central: Do you find that scaring people in a live event-type of setting is similar to what you do in movies or is it an entirely new world of scares?
Jason Blum: You know, I think there are a lot of differences and similarities but as a whole, I just love seeing people physically react to things- whether in a movie theater or inside this theater. There are similarities to both approaches because for both, you want to take your audiences’ attention one way so you can get the scare to come from somewhere else. The hardest part is doing it live is that if you mess it up, you can’t do it again. I would say that’s a huge challenge, to get it right and get it right every time for so that everyone takes away a great experience from coming to Blumhouse of Horrors.
Dread Central: Switching over to movies- under Blumhouse you’ve managed to create some incredible original horror films over the last few years and you’ve got a pretty strong slate coming up as well. To you, is there a secret to getting a good modern horror film right?
Jason Blum: To be honest with you, it’s not a complicated formula at all. What works for us is that we do movies really inexpensively, which is a lesson I learned from doing Paranormal Activity. That way, if the movies work, everyone who works on them profits from it and if they don’t, everyone doesn’t but we don’t lose big either.
So when you are making movies inexpensively like we do, you can take risks that you can’t take with a horror movie that costs $20 or $30 million. That’s what we did with James Wan and Insidious, that’s what we did with Sinister and the more we keep making these kind of movies, the more I feel like keeping costs down is the core of keeping the business side of things successful. Plus, we’re filmmaker driven- I’ve always given our directors freedom to tell the stories they want to tell.
Story is always going to come first with us; other people working in the genre like to focus more on the scares than an actual story but I’ve always felt that if you’re emotionally involved in the characters and their struggles, that makes a movie all the more scary for viewers because when you’re emotionally invested, that makes the scares all the more scary. That’s why Sinister works; Ethan’s performance is what keeps you invested in the story so when you’re watching him and we nail you with the scares, it’s really effective storytelling all around.
Dread Central: I know you guys have Paranormal Activity 4 coming up in a few weeks; do you guys have an ‘end game’ in mind or a strategy in regards to these stories at all? Have you begun thinking about part five at all yet or is it still too early?
Jason Blum: Oh yeah, it’s definitely too early to even start talking about Paranormal 5; I would say that it’s hard to make a good movie that you’re working on while thinking two movies past it so we don’t really have an ‘end game’ right now. I think that thinking about what hasn’t even happened yet can negatively affect the current movie you’re working on, so we try not to think about the next one. Of course there will be times where we are shooting scenes where we think, “Oh, that would be good for another one,” but there’s not a solid plan right now for multiple movies beyond the one coming out soon. We have to see how it goes with this one first.
Dread Central: And what’s the status of Insidious 2? Is that still in the scripting stages?
Jason Blum: You know, we’re in the same position we’ve been in for a while so there’s no real news yet. I know that we all want to do Insidious 2 and plan on doing it, but there are a lot of things that need to click before we can get started and we still need a lot more clicks before we can get started.
The Blumhouse of Horrors has taken over the 88-year-old Variety Arts Theater building, located at 940 South Figueroa Street, between 9th and 10th Streets. Once known as “The Playhouse,” the building hosted performances by industry greats like Laurel & Hardy and Clark Gable and featured speeches by historical figures like Eleanor Roosevelt and Dorothy Parker. The event provides rare access for visitors to explore one of Los Angeles’ most historic and well-preserved cultural sites.
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